Managing Partner of Relman, Dane & Colfax
John P. Relman is the managing partner of Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC, a public interest law firm specializing in civil rights litigation. Founded in 1999 with three lawyers, the firm now has 23 attorneys and 40 employees. Known nationally for its civil rights practice, the firm has been cited by the Stanford Law Review as “one of the nation’s most dynamic for-profit civil rights law firms” that has “brought a range of innovative lawsuits at the frontier of civil rights practice.” From 1989 to 1999, Mr. Relman headed the Fair Housing Project at the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. Before that Mr. Relman was a staff attorney at the National Office of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.
A nationally recognized expert in fair housing and fair lending law, for nearly three decades Mr. Relman has represented individual plaintiffs, cities and leading civil rights organizations in many of the country’s most important civil rights cases. Mr. Relman served as lead counsel in the well-known Denny’s Restaurant class action, which resulted in a national settlement of more than $17 million. Mr. Relman has won multimillion dollar jury verdicts in landmark housing and public accommodations race discrimination cases involving the denial of basic rights and services. Kennedy v. City of Zanesville ($10.8 million race discrimination jury verdict for denial of public water); Timus v. William J. Davis, Inc. ($2.4 million jury verdict for housing discrimination). More recently Mr. Relman represented the cities of Baltimore and Memphis in ground-breaking reverse redlining cases against Wells Fargo which, in conjunction with a Justice Department investigation, resulted in settlements for those two cities, and a national settlement, of more than $200 million.
Mr. Relman has published and lectured widely in the area of civil rights law and litigation. He is the author of Housing Discrimination Practice Manual, published by the West Group, and has taught public interest law at Georgetown University Law Center and fair housing and employment discrimination law at the Washington College of Law at The American University. Mr. Relman has won numerous awards from civil rights organizations across the country for his work. He has repeatedly been named a “Super Lawyer,” and one of America and Washington D.C.’s “Best Civil Rights Lawyers.”
Mr. Relman clerked for the Honorable Sam J. Ervin, III of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the Honorable Joyce Hens Green of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. He received his law degree from the University of Michigan and his undergraduate degree from Harvard.